No six-party talks before U.S. poll: envoy

by Kanako Takahara

The Russian ambassador to Japan said Friday the next round of six-party talks on North Korea’s nuclear threat will probably take place at the end of December at the earliest, because of the Nov. 2 U.S. presidential election.

Alexander Losyukov, who headed Russia’s delegation at the talks before he was appointed ambassador to Japan in March, said North Korea will not agree to hold talks before the election.

“North Korea probably wants to wait to see whether the next U.S. administration will come up with a new policy” toward Pyongyang, Losyukov said at a lecture in Tokyo, adding that his comments were based on talks with Pyongyang officials.

U.S. Democratic candidate John Kerry favors direct contact with North Korea, while President George W. Bush has pushed the six-way talks.

The six nations — North and South Korea, China, the United States, Japan and Russia — agreed at the June meeting to hold the next round of talks by the end of September.

But North Korea has opposed an autumn resumption, citing what it calls U.S. hostility toward Pyongyang.

Its opposition also apparently stems from recent revelations that South Korea enriched uranium and extracted plutonium without informing the International Atomic Energy Agency, an international nuclear watchdog.